Traffic concerns raised about planning development ordinance change

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Hiawassee City Hall planning development ordinance

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Members of the public voiced several fears about the proposed planning development ordinance density change.

The new ordinance would allow one acre or large lots to place more units per acre with a maximum of four structures. Discussion about the ordinance update started after the presentation of the Mountain Views Townhome project from an outside developer.

The developer’s under contract for the five acres across from Georgia Mountain Vision Center. He plans to turn the two back acres into townhomes but only if the city changed the density ratio.

The city council’s been steadily moving along with the change, citing the importance of having housing available for young professional families. The proposed 16 townhomes would be three levels with a single car garage and either a two- or three-bedroom layout. The price starts at $230,000 and up.

Since the townhomes fall along Main Street and Ross Lloyd Road, developers must discuss the ingress and egress with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Currently, GDOTs will only allow a right in and right out from the proposed complex. Individuals won’t be able to make a left turn.

townhomes

Proposed Townhomes mockup

The public commented that the area is already difficult to turn onto the highway in that area and adding more cars that will have to travel up the road to then turn around will make it worse.

“A change in density for a project like this may look minuscule, but if you take this across the whole city that’s a big deal, that’s a [potentially] tremendous amount of congestion,” Rob Robbins stated.

The ordinance would apply to the entire city because Hiawassee doesn’t have a zoning policy in place.

Councilmember Amy Barrett argued that one couldn’t judge it across the entire city because few lots could accommodate a project like the townhomes, and most aren’t on the market. She also commented that Mountain Views can’t be compared to Hawks Harbor because Hawks Harbor is on the lake with astronomical asking prices and HOA fees. It also has other issues including poor building practices.

According to Barrett, these proposed townhomes are for families with children who need somewhere to live in Hiawassee. If people want to see more restaurants, coffee shops, or businesses, the area needs to accommodate those types of people. As the city continues to grow, these questions need to be addressed.

It doesn’t apply to lots smaller than one acre, but Mayor Liz Ordiales added Hiawassee has more one acre lots than many people realize.

“The developer is wanting to maximize density. He’s got an investment; I understand that, but that’s not your job, that’s his worry,” Robbins remarked. “Your worry is the taxpayers.”

Councilmember Nancy Noblet commented she wasn’t sure the units would even be built because of the high prices of construction. If the deal goes through, the developer might end up selling the property if construction prices continue to soar and materials are scarce.

Apparently, the next potential buyer in line for that property is storage units. Everyone agreed they don’t want more storage units on Main Street, but without a zoning ordinance, they can’t prevent storage units from going in.

The public hearing for the planning development ordinance change will be on June 17 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. The final discussion will be at the June 28 council work session, and the second reading at the July 6 council meeting.

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